Florida State quarterback Winston a threat to Pitt
By Jerry DiPaola
Published: Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013, 8:48 p.m.
Bobby Bowden has a warning for Pitt before its game Monday against Florida State at Heinz Field:
Watch out for those quarterbacks who play baseball.
“I've never seen a great baseball player who wasn't a pretty dang good quarterback,” said Bowden, the former Florida State coach who allowed Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Chris Weinke to participate in both sports.
The skill sets match, he said.
“Strong arm, not afraid of the fastball.” Bowden said. “He doesn't mind standing in that pocket.”
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, a redshirt freshman who has far more college baseball experience, already has had a busy year.
• He took part in spring football drills, impressing coach Jimbo Fisher so much that he easily won the starting job in summer camp.
• He played in 41 baseball games for a Florida State team that advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals, hitting .235, and striking out 21 batters in 27 innings.
Pitt defensive coordinator Matt House is impressed by Winston, who left Hueytown (Ala.) High School last year as the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the nation.
“He is definitely a talented guy,” House said. “He can make all the throws and he's athletic, so it will be a good test for our guys.”
That baseball thing? With all due respect to Bowden, House isn't worried too much about Winston's curveball.
“Having competed at a high level, that helps. That can't hurt anybody,” House said. “As far as what it means for reading coverages, I don't think it makes an iota of a difference.”
The difference will be how Pitt is able to corral Winston's running ability. Although Pitt struggled last year against mobile quarterbacks Munchie Legaux of Cincinnati and Everett Golson of Notre Dame, defensive end Bryan Murphy said this year's unit is more athletic.
“We are pretty much a contain defense (now),” he said. “We are a lot more mobile on the edge.”
Pitt's defense will expose Winston to multiple looks. If Winston tries to compensate for his inexperience by turning to junior running backs James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman, House has a counter for that, too.
Defensive tackles Aaron Donald and Ty Ezell will be the center of Pitt's run defense.
“No question, we are counting on them,” House said. “They prepared to have a good season, so I'm excited to see them on Monday night.”
House expects the Seminoles to double-team Donald, one of the top tackles in the Big East last year.
“They'd be dumb if they didn't,” he said.
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.
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